one thousand gifts – chapter 6 a book review

what do you want? the place of seeing God

But I am not a woman who ever lives the full knowing. I am a wandering Israelite who sees the flame in the sky above, the pillar, the smoke from the mountain, the earth open up and give way, and still I forget…I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need come again every day…for who can gather the manna but once…

I remember walking in the market places of Taipei with our missionary friend to buy some vegetables and fruit for the day (or possibly two). A crowded, loud, bustling place where people come daily to buy what they may need for that day. America is quite a different culture; who wants to go out daily with four children to market to buy a day’s worth of meals? In my curiosity and humor I have thought of trying it…yeah, still not brave enough yet. Maybe one day it will be a good opportunity to teach the children a hands on “going out to gather the daily manna”. Hmmm…

At any rate it’s that overseas experience that I remember when I think of daily manna. Just to go to just gather what is required for the day. As much as that sounds a bit much for a family of six, for those I saw going to market, it seemed quite good, simply sweet, less overwhelming. To not think so much ahead that what you go out to get, spoils before it’s ever tasted – ever experienced.  So maybe the daily outing to market would be a good lesson for me as well.

What do you want? Isn’t that the soul question we all need to circle back to, over and again?

The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God. This is what I’m famished for: more of the God-glory.

What do I want? Would that I would know! I have spent so much time trying not to want things (of this world – materials, more stuff, unnecessary bits and pieces of temporary treasures) that I haven’t thought too much on what I do want. With all this letting go, what might I fill up with? Yes, it is more of Him. I can try this or that but then they fade, and He remains. Without more of Him, can anything else ever really be enjoyed to it’s fullest…when fullness is only found in Him? Like this fleeting moment I’m about to give up to frustration (that word again!) instead of stopping this typing to live in it…

Today frayed, unraveled at the edges a bit with dishes and dirt and paraphernalia dumped by kids. But only yesterday I had been numbering moments…manna today or I starve.

(…I got up and “lived” that moment of fixing breakfasts and lunches and changing diapers and giving kisses and…and I’m glad I did.  The attitude improves as I take hold of the “manna” for the day and faithfully attend to what God has placed before me this day.)

Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else…I pay tribute to God by paying attention.

Ah, back to the way we were made, you know, to worship.  We were created with pulls toward honoring, giving allegiance, having a “favorite” – WORSHIP!  Even those who say they don’t believe in God, worship (themselves, something in creation, money).  Something in us knows we need to bow; we were meant to be bent, not straight and stiff.  Then, is not paying attention to God called non-worship?  When I look at the ugly in front of my eyes – the situation – and I say to Him, “I know you’re here, but…”, aren’t I really telling Him, “Yeah, I get it, you may be here and there and everywhere, but I will not accept your help or your company in this!”  Haven’t I said such things because I thought surely He allowed this and now I’m left to get out of this mess best I can.  But I can’t.  The mess remains and I remain in the mess, and I tell God I do not want to be here and I don’t want you to even “use” me in this!  Get your glory a different way through me, but not this way.  And what does He do?  He does the thing I’m supposed to – ever the teacher and example and parent – He waits.  Can I be so bold to say, sometimes He even spanks.  He lets me finish, refocus, “think about what I’ve done and said”, and then he waits for me to return.  The mess hasn’t changed, He hasn’t changed, but I have.  I’m now “paying attention”!

Do I have eyes to see Him and not the thing?…Is this paradox – the giving thanks for what is, creates an appetite for more – not for more things, but for seeing more of God to give more glory?

Commercials use the slogan, “Can’t eat just one…” to refer to different foods; it is the same and more for the God-chaser.  I can’t just live on the glory I beheld yesterday.  If I saw the way the light fell on the counter, across the tea pot yesterday, that is wonderful and it’s numbered in the book of 1,000.  But today, I need to see it again!  I want to find new light in new places; I need to know He’s here today!  I spent time with my husband last night over coffee and dessert, and it was sweet and filling and so good!  What if today I never saw him?  Could I live off of the sweetness of one night today?  No…it is a no.  I need him and want him today just like – and more than –  yesterday!  It is the same, and also more, with the Lover of my Soul.

Always, ingratitude makes the poison course.

Here Ann makes reference to the “bite” of the snake at the beginning where ingratitude began and to the massive deaths that took place in the dessert when the Israelites complained bitterly toward Moses and God.  Whatever freedom and provision He had given, it just wasn’t enough. The new beautiful place He was taking them to, it wasn’t enough.  It didn’t look the way they hoped.  They had no green grass, no nice homes, no porches on which to sit and watch the sun rise and set, no extra space in which to comfortably entertain guests and family for long periods of time, no extra money to decorate with trinkets, no…oh, maybe that’s not just them.

When we first left our previous address and moved to the one here in beautiful Colorado Springs, all I could see was what was lacking.  I had this image of what I wanted, and the reality just didn’t measure up.  Quite literally, I couldn’t see the mountains for the ideal in my head. Nathan would point to the mountains and speak of their beauty and grandeur, and all I could do was roll my eyes and remark that they weren’t anything like the NC mountains that actually had color and weren’t just a big rock.  Nathan would paint and hang up pictures and $5 decorations from Hobby Lobby for me, and I still walked into others’ homes and yearned.  The poison was coursing!

Then, a year spent in pursuing Joy and God gave more.  He gave me the home of “more than I could imagine” – my home was in Him. Wherever He would be, I would be, and then I would have everything.  Somehow within that year I found contentment.  I wasn’t even seeking it, but when you seek Him who is “fullness of joy”, He will give you all of Himself.  He will heal your bitter, dying soul as You look straight in His face; as He healed the Israelites who looked full in the face of a copper snake on a pole.  I think we have the better view.

How we behold determines if we hold joy…How we look determines how we live…if we live.

“In the same way that Moses lifted the Serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up – and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life” (John 3:14-15 MSG)…in the right inner looking, we can gain the right outer life…the saved full life?…”Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” (A.W. Tozer)…Seeing is the spiritual life. “…they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9 NASB)…faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything.

The truly saved have eyes of faith and lips of thanks…I long to live all eye…The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within…God is both the object of my seeing and the subject who does the act of all real seeing…”Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart…”

My sight on earth will at best be 20/20, but what will that do for eyes that seek to see Him – our Eternal God?  I can see far distances, but I can’t see eternal distances.  I can’t see the heavens open, or the armies of angels surrounding me, or the heart of man.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, “…if you were blind, you could really see…” (paraphrase mine). In other words, if you would recognize how limited your vision is concerning me and my Kingdom, you would come to me and ask to “see”.

I know I glance through life everyday.  I see little faces, messy rooms, school art-works, the sun coming in through the windows, hair a mess and then brushed, the words on pages, the light from different screens in our house, the struggling grass in the yard, the trash trucks coming down the streets, the trash in the house overflowing…  I peek, but do I linger and truly see?  Not always, but I have!  When I have “been all eye” the physical and the soul have “gathered” much in just one day!  Light sitting on floors, smiles brightening up little faces, cow-licks that make a boy look all the cuter, the heart of a little boy struggling, the joy of a little girl brightening, the trees really dancing in the wind, green really springing up out of the ground, the sun rising and making the snow gleam on the mountain – that magnificent Rock!  I see Him, and He is Beauty!

Is that why joy hurts – God stretching us open to receive more of Himself?…I know what I want: to see deeply, to thank deeply, to feel joy deeply…

“The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God.” (Irenaeus)

I can’t live in moon moments…I live with the broken bodies. Wasn’t He awakening me to Beauty everywhere, because beauty is the way of the inner eye?

Why would joy ever hurt?  Let us look at the Savior.  He brought much joy to Mary and Joseph, as they were scorned by their family and friends, making an uncomfortable trip, staying in a stinky cave, uprooted in the middle of the night to a place Israelites had been freed from many years before.  He gave joy to the disciples as He one-by-one called them to leave family, friends, status, money, homes to walk on the dusty, rocky earth and touch the untouchable, talk to to the crazed, heal those who spewed evil from their mouths.  Their joy was made fuller as they preached His Gospel and then were flogged, put in prison, tortured, hanged, cut in two, and exiled.  He has made this life full of joy as He led me to leave my family and home and go to a place where I knew no one…several times.  He has poured more of Himself in my life as He has emptied me of myself, my dreams, my desires, my wants.  He has taken away, but only so He would, not just fill, but overflow in a vessel emptied.

I can’t live in quiet sunrises and “moon moments”.  Kids wake up and I get tired.  I can’t just “read” the beginning and skip to the “end” if I really want to fully live.  I will have forsaken the “meat” of life.  The days that include huge hugs from little arms, long kisses from a gentle husband, times of plenty, times of lean, disagreements, tears, corrections, flowers blooming, rain pouring down, 70 degree weather, blown over fences, a good cup of coffee with a friend who “gets” you, a “bad air” from people who misread you, dirty diapers, fun bath times, burnt dinners, yummy home-baked goodies, Saturdays and Mondays…

Will I choose to be broken under the load of it all or will I walk in it, and see Him in everyone of those moments?  Will I live in and reveal His glory in those life-moments, or will I try to hide under “bowls” and “beds”?  Will I hide the Light that I am called to shine in the darkness?  Or will I choose to fan into the flame of a burning passion for Christ…and live that way?